Lifechanger – Canada, 2018

‘It Becomes You.’

Lifechanger is a 2018 Canadian supernatural horror feature film written, produced and directed by Justin McConnell (producer of Galaxy of Horrors; Minutes Past Midnight). The Unstable Ground production stars Lora Burke, Jack Foley and Elitsa Bako.


A murderous shapeshifter sets out on a blood-soaked mission to make things right with the woman he loves…


Most horror movies are movies with ideas. Writer/director Justin McConnell’s Lifechanger is a rare horror movie about an idea. McConnell’s concern is with mutability in all of its permutations, and the symbol he uses for this idea is that of the Skinwalker, or at least he suggests it as the symbol; it’s never strictly clarified for the viewer, nor is it even clear to the shape-shifting protagonist, Andrew, who also acts as narrator.

Toward the end of the movie, after he’s gained her trust, Andrew confesses his problem to Julia, the woman he’s secretly been in love with for years, and with whom he’s recently become quite chummy; he tells her he absorbs people, he becomes them in the most intimate sense, taking on not just their physical appearances, but their memories, and their lives, while simultaneously leaving his victims as desiccated husks, and he believes he has to keep absorbing other people or he’ll die. The rupture this causes between the two leads Andrew to take drastic measures which ultimately lead to startling and uncomfortable real-world questions about identity and the meaning of self-perception.

 For the most part, the technical aspects of the movie are solid if unremarkable; McConnell’s script, although feeling a little long, intelligently depicts the emotional toll of Andrew’s shape-shifting, of leaving loved-ones behind, of killing innocents, and the strategic skill sets required for longevity in such a precarious situation. He directs with a strong sense of thematic depth without losing the characters or the surface horror narrative.

Sasha Moric’s cinematography does the job well, and Sean Motley’s music props up most scenes without being memorable. One of the major pluses has to be the casting by Ashley Hallihan; several fresh, unconventional choices were made here, notably with Jack Foley as Robert. And no teenagers are in sight; the viewer should applaud both McConnell and Hallihan for this badly needed reprieve from spotty moroseness.

Although ultimately not a classic, Lifechanger is a thoughtful attempt at movie horror which should be appreciated for what it is by those weary of the usual cash-grab genre drivel.


Other reviews:

Lifechanger is a masterpiece of mounting tension, featuring engaging, highly flawed characters, wonderful use of color to mirror the characters moods (kudos to Cinematographer Sasha Moric), a pulsing score that isn’t afraid to become ethereal and downright eerie when it’s called for, and some truly impressive practical visual effects and make-ups.” Horror Fuel

“The entity Drew – voiced by Bill Oberst Jr – would make a decent X-Files monster-of-the-week, but McConnell (of the minimalist end of the world movie The Collapsed) chooses to tell this story from his – its/her/their – point of view, with a confessional voice-over and a lot of rumination on the long-term effects of living like this…” The Kim Newman Web Site

“Body horror fans will find plenty of the good stuff in McConnell’s film. The makeup effects for the Rot are good, practical and eventually gooey. McConnell employs a handful of digital effects during the switches but by and large sticks with physical in camera effects.” Andrew Mack, Screen Anarchy

Cast and characters:

  • Lora Burke … Julia Wilson – Poor Agnes
  • Jack Foley … Robert – Fugue
  • Elitsa Bako … Emily Roberts – Antiviral
  • Rachel VanDuzer … Rachel
  • Steve Kasan … Detective Freddie Ransone – Covenant; Red Spring
  • Sam White … Sam Richardson
  • Bill Oberst Jr. … Drew [voice] – 3 From Hell; Impuratus; Death House; Ayla; Dis;The Fetish Set; et al
  • Peter Higginson … Andrew
  • Adam Buller … James
  • Brian Quintero … Tommy
  • Uche Ama … Jen
  • Mark Rainmaker … John
  • Ry Barrett … Richard
  • Michelle D’Alessandro Hatt … Mary Richardson
  • Daniel Faraldo … Bill

Filming locations:

Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Lifechanger had its world premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival, in Montreal on July 20, 2018.

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